Heather and I said goodbye this week to our friends here after our 6-month stay (from October last year to this March). Now we are headed to our new home in the south. Saying goodbye to all our new friends, after this short time, was heart wrenching and tiring. We saw it appropriate to sit down and connect one last time with all our friends and leave behind some gift. The gift we chose to leave behind was a Swahili letter and a Bible. None of our friends in the village had a Bible, and their Muslim faith does not emphasize the necessity of reading it. This is a curious fact because the Quran is clear that all must believe in the “former prophets.” The only document outside of the Quran where one learns about these prophets is the Bible.
Over the past months as we approached these people to learn Swahili, we planted seeds: we partook in village life, we praised God in daily speech, we prayed for sick people in Jesus’ name, and we told Bible stories. Our hope, besides learning the language, was to create interest and openness to hearing from God through the revelation given by the Prophets and Apostles of Israel. Our last effort, for now, in fulfilling this goal was giving away some Swahili Bibles (about 10) and writing these letters to go in the Bibles. Below is an example of one of the letters; all the letters follow this template, but we personalized the letter for each person. We would love for you to read this letter to get insight into how we present ourselves here.
GOODBYE SWAHILI LETTER (TRANSLATED)
Heather and I came hear from America without knowing if we would be welcomed by the people of ****. When we arrived in this region, you were happy to welcome us into your home and even help us learn Swahili. We were like children who only knew a few words and spoke slowly, but you have been kind to us and patient as we have tried to communicate. You advised me about many things: you said I should help the young boys by giving them a soccer ball; you taught me Swahili numbers at Jumbe’s porch; you warned me not to discuss politics with people and that I should not go fishing; you suggested that the villagers give me a new tribal name; you welcomed me to tell stories from the Bible. Thank you so, so much. We hope we can find good people like you in **** who will welcome us into their lives.
As you already know, Heather and I are people of faith in God, and God has sent us here to share his Word with others. If we knew your language better, we would be able to talk more freely about this Word. This Word has led us to this country, and it is this Word that lives within us to transform us into God’s image. The best thing we have to share with you is the story of salvation revealed by God through his Prophets and Apostles. These prophets and apostles spoke, and their words were accompanied by great wonders and signs from God. We know you believe in the prophets, and so we give you this gift so that you may discover their message for yourself in your own language. We are not asking you to forget the good things you already know about God in Islam, but I am asking you to consider closely the words of these Prophets and Apostles as they were first spoken. Consider them with an open heart.
The Bible is large and we want you to read the whole thing. However, we have suggested below some of the books of the Bible in an order that you could read first to help you get and understanding of the whole Bible before you go back and read every book. You will probably have many questions as you read, and you may sometimes get confused, but do not let that stop you; the more you read the more you will come to understand. It is necessary to pray to God that your heart and mind will be open to understand the Truth of this message. I pray that God will reveal himself to you, that you will know his will more perfectly, and that your heart will be open to believe his Word.
Finally, because we leave to ****, we may not see each other for some time. Only God knows for sure, but we think we will come together again. Feel free to call us anytime, and if you have questions about the Bible we can try to help you or find someone who can. You are welcome to our home anytime.
Mwanyiro (Kelas) and Ninyiro (Eva)
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
1. Genesis: Creation; Sin; and the Fathers of Israel
2. Exodus: Moses; Salvation of Israel; The Law; God’s dwelling among
3. Joshua: Israel conquering and settling Palestine
4. Isaiah: God’s judgment on His People; their Captivity; Promises of
the Coming Messiah and the Kingdom of God
5. Psalms 78, 106: Summary of the story of God’s People
6. Psalm 89, 110: God has chosen David’s offspring to rule as King
7. Luke: The Messiah and the Kingdom of God.
8. Acts: The New People of God and the Salvation of the Gentiles.
9. Romans: Salvation by Faith
10.Ephesians: God’s Eternal Plan